If ever you’ve been in an automobile crash or other types of accident that resulted in some type of injury, you may already know just how frustrating it can be to receive the compensation you deserve. In many cases, victims go through the motions of filing a claim in the wake of a collision, fall, or other injuries, trusting that insurers and others involved in the incident will simply do the right thing. For a variety of reasons, that is simply not the case. The fact is that you may need a personal injury lawyer to properly protect your rights and interests, and that attorney will need certain information to properly assess your case.
Personal Injuries – By the Numbers
Across the United States, millions of Americans suffer some type of injury in automobile accidents each and every year. Sadly, those injured drivers and passengers are the lucky ones, as tens of thousands of accident victims die as a result of those crashes – with an average of 3,000 annual crash fatalities in Texas alone. It’s no wonder that automobile crash claims represent the single largest type of personal injury case in the country – making up about one-half of all personal injury lawsuits. The injuries involved in these cases can vary in severity from minor soft tissue damage to concussions, whiplash, and severe spinal complications.
Slip and falls are another common cause for a personal injury lawsuit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 700,000 people, aged 65 and over, end up in the hospital each year due to injuries sustained from a fall. Among Americans, the National Floor Safety Institute estimates that some 8 million people in the United States receive medical treatment in emergency rooms each year from falls. Many of these patients suffer damage in the form of broken bones, soft tissue damage, and traumatic brain injuries. These premises liability cases can be difficult to manage even with an attorney, and almost impossible to navigate without professional help.
Medical malpractice cases often involve injuries suffered as a result of improper administration of medication or other grievous errors. Despite the common public perception that most of these cases are frivolous, having no serious value, a Harvard study in 2006 indicated that the opposite is true. Of the more than 1,400 cases involved in the study, 97% were found to have merit. Even something as seemingly minor as a dog bite can result in an injury that could be grounds for a personal injury claim. More than 4.5 million such bites take place every year, with more than 800,000 of the victims requiring some form of medical attention. Many times, the victims of these bites are not even aware that they have legal recourse to seek damages and recover medical expenses, property damages, lost wages, and even emotional distress. Obviously, if you have been injured as the result of another person’s actions – even if those actions only involved an act of negligence, you may be entitled to compensation.
What Your Lawyer Will Need from You.
When you’ve suffered an injury, you want to make certain that you provide your attorney with all of the facts he or she will need to properly assess your case, evaluate the likelihood of recovery, and develop a strategy to move forward.
- Time and incident details. Your attorney needs to know exactly when the incident occurred, and when you first realized that you were injured. It is important to be cognizant of your state’s relevant statute of limitations, since you may be barred from recovering damages for injuries that occurred many years ago
- Where your injury occurred. You need to provide details about where the accident occurred since that will help your lawyer determine who should be considered liable for your injuries. Depending on the exact details of the case, you may even discover that there are other parties sharing liability for your injuries.
- The type and severity of your injuries. Before you can recover damages in any suit, you will need to demonstrate that you were actually injured. Bring any medical records detailing tests and procedures that were performed, the actual diagnosis and prognosis, cost estimates, and contact information for everyone who provided care.
- The names of anyone who may have contacted you about the incident. Often times, you may hear from insurers and others who are representing the liable party in your case. Regardless of whether they have contacted you by phone, email, written correspondence, or text, you need to provide those communications to your attorney. As a general rule, it is usually wise to talk to no one but your attorney when pursuing these cases, but if someone has contacted you then let your attorney know.
- Bring all documents relevant to the accident and subsequent medical care. That includes photos that you may have taken in the wake of the incident, as well as any recorded statements, police reports, accident reports, paystubs demonstrating lost wages due to time away from work, and legal documents you may have received from the defendant or his representatives.
Remember, the determining factor in any personal injury case is whether or not you can establish that another party was responsible for your accident and legally liable for damages you’ve incurred. Depending on the nature of the tort involved, that could involve anything from willful actions designed to harm you to simple negligence. Your lawyer must have all the facts to make that determination. As a general rule, it is always better to consult with an attorney soon after an accident occurs rather than waiting. Many have ended up influencing his own case by failing to promptly obtain sound legal counsel in a timely manner. If you believe that you’ve been injured and have a right to seek recovery, contact an attorney right away.